The Lazarus Pit: Entwined’s Dancing Under Glass

Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for.  This week, we discover what it’s like to party in a Gothic snow globe with Entwined’s Dancing Under Glass (Earache).
So, while it would be misleading to describe this British band as “international men of mystery” (too many of them thank their “mum and dad” in the album credits for that), there ain’t a whole lot of information out there about them.  Here’s what the Internet knows: they were based in Colchester, they open for Morbid Angel on their 1998 tour (not exactly the ideal band to open for), and they pretty much had the one release.  Hell, even their former label, Earache, has no idea what became of them (at least according to a 2008 post on the Ask Earache blog).  What I’m trying to say is, don’t expect any band history here; if the liner notes are any indication, Entwined were just five British blokes who loved heavy metal, released an album into an uncaring void, and vanished with as little fanfare as they appeared.

To be honest, it isn’t much of a surprise. Dancing under Glass came out around the time that Paradise Lost were breaking out the synthesizers, My Dying Bride had succeeded in making their fan base 34.788%… complete in not caring, and Anathema were exploring the fourth alternative to quality.  In that environment, a fairly standard Gothic metal release, released by a label at its nadir, wasn’t exactly going to light the world afire.  Even so, the record doesn’t quite deserve its dismissal to the dustbin of history.

Putting aside the anemic production (which wasn’t too unusual for the time), there’s a hurdle to overcome when popping in this particular disc: Stephen John Tovey’s vocals.  He isn’t exactly terrible, but he basically comes off as a gravelly, slightly off-key version of Sentenced’s Ville Laihiala, only without the charisma or emotive ability.  This is a band that could actually have been improved by growling– it’s not like the lyrics stand out enough to warrant a featured role.  Still, it’s the music underneath that makes this a worthwhile listen.  While not particularly innovative, these songs are executed with a level of finesse that belies the band’s brief existence.  Catchy, dark, and melodic, tunes like “Shed Nightward Beauty” (which starts off with some Steve Harris-style basswork and proggy keyboards) and “The Forgotten” worm their way into your head.

While not as groundbreaking or flat-out weird as some of the previous entries in this series, Dancing Under Glass still sounds pretty good 14 years later.  Entwined combined several different important phases of their country’s metallic history, from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to the Peaceville Three, and they did it well.  Next time you feel like brooding in a cemetery, instead of grabbing a Lacuna Coil disc, give these guys some consideration.

Buy it here!